Once and Again
Gardenia

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Niki: A | 1 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Gardenia

Close-up of a prescription bottle and water glass on a bedside table. The camera pans slowly left, and a bedraggled Karen comes into view. She's staring vacantly as she voice-overs, "When you don't want to do anything, but you have to, what you do is make manageable pictures." Cut to Soliloquy Karen, nodding matter-of-factly, and saying, "For example: getting up."

"Mom! We're out of milk!" Jessie yells up from the kitchen. Eli grumbles that they're out of everything. Unconcerned, he says he swears Karen doesn't eat when they're not there. Jessie quickly insists that she does. Eli mentions that he came in late the night before, and Karen didn't even seem to notice, even though she was still up: "She didn't even give me that hurt look I've been getting since I was six." Jessie asks what Karen did, then. Eli unscrews the cap on the orange juice and mutters, "Nothin'," before taking a huge swig straight from the container. Because he's a rebel. All you have to do is look at his wannabe-rockabilly shirt to know it.

Upstairs, Karen slowly struggles to an upright position as she voice-overs, "You wait for the next set of pictures." Soliloquy Karen looks up at us and adds, "And hope that they come." The camera pans up and back, and Soliloquy Karen becomes very small, teetering on the Stool up in the corner of our screens. Teeny little Soliloquy Karen says, "You're not supposed to feel like this."

Karen bustles into the kitchen, smiling far too brightly and exclaiming, "Good morning!" It's like she gave herself a small pep rally just outside the door. She reaches into the fridge for coffee, and Jessie informs her that there's no milk. Karen's ebullience fades. This statement of Jessie's was unexpected. It takes Karen a second to compute. She mumbles that she'll go to the market. She tries to get her pitch up again, saying that she'll pick up the stuff to make pizza, too. Behind her, Eli and Jessie try to sound psyched, but they fall flat. Karen stares at the coffee maker for a second and then sighs, foggily saying that Eli can't make pizza since he has to work later. Hazy, she turns and looks at him for confirmation. Eli looks blank for a second -- okay, more so than usual -- and then catches on, stammering that she's right, yes, in fact, he does have to work because he does have a job. Yep. A job. Gainful employment, that's right. Karen appears to be half-listening. After a second, she slowly turns back to the coffee maker, saying she'll get the stuff anyway and they can make pizza next time the kids are over. "Yeah, that's great!" Eli oversells. He can't quite keep up the enthusiasm as he adds, "I wouldn't want to miss it." The front door closes, and Jessie and Eli sigh a relived "Dad!" They fly over to greet Rick. In the background, Rick looks up from hugging Jessie and asks Karen for a favor. Karen physically braces herself against the counter, sinking under the weight of this unexpected onslaught. With her back still facing Rick, she stares straight ahead with deadened eyes, just wanting to make it through this and for all of them to get the hell out of there already.

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Once and Again

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